Sunday, July 15, 2018

Eye Saw the Light

I was at the eye doctor yesterday.  The doctor and I continue to ponder how much longer it will be until I need to have reading glasses.  False teeth and a rocking chair are right around the corner!

As I have written before, it seems that I have a habit of striking up conversations with other special needs parents.  This day would be no different.  

After the appointment I went to the check-out area.  I struck up a light conversation with the young girl (lets call her Heather), telling her how much I like Dr. Lisa.  She proceeded to tell me how well the doctor always treats the staff.  Heather continued to explain that she is a special needs mom, and the doctor supports her in so many ways.  I could tell that without that crucial emotional support Heather's life would be much more difficult.  I eagerly gave her this blog address and welcomed her to come read any time.  I hope God blesses her with peace, comfort, and strength for all of her days.

An important takeaway is how valuable Dr. Lisa is in her life.  Because the doctor supports her and allows her the ability to tend to her child as needed, Heather has less pressure in her life.  In the work history of both Robin and I we know what its like to have supportive bosses, and what its like to work for non-supportive bosses.  The difference is incredible.  Many special needs parent WANT to work hard and earn a decent living while at the same time being there for the child as much as humanly possible.  It's like living a double life really.  

For those of us who play the roles of boss, or neighbor, or friend, or any other role alongside of a special needs parent, please remember how just the slightest show of support will change their lives.  And if you are a special needs parent, do everything in your power to work for people that will give you that support.  After all....you and your child deserve it.

Be well and God bless.   Tom


Saturday, June 2, 2018

Update Time!

It occurs to me that I haven't done an update for quite some time.  So how is that Tyler doing?

Tyler is doing very well right now.  I always say "right now" so I don't end up jinxing the delicate universe that surrounds him.  Each time we see him he appears to be very happy and content.  He always looks very healthy, clean, and sporting nice clothes.  We get our weekly smiles and hugs at church and he is off to his home.

Within the last few weeks I had an update meeting with the group that provides the residential care for him.  We also had the opportunity to sit down with his Case Manager and review how things are going.  All indications are that Tyler is not only doing fine, but he continues to exhibit a willingness to learn how reach out to others.  For example, he always needed to sit at a separate table from everyone else at his day program.  Now, he enjoys sitting with the group.  Not only is he sitting closer to everyone, but the day program reports that he has a few other individuals that he has more interaction with.

On another subject, Tyler's Bibles has been very successful thus far.  As of now there have been about 15 brand new beautiful Bibles distributed to members of his congregation that are in need of one.  Donations have come in from near and far to help supply more Bibles in the future.  We will not stop until we have new Bibles in the hands of everyone who is seeking one!  If you need the information on how to donate some money to this cause, please refer to the last post titled "Tyler's Bibles".

Meanwhile, the rest of the family is doing well.  We all enjoy the summer weather that has finally arrived.  There is nothing like hearing the kids splashing in the pool, cooking burgers on the grill, and sitting out by the fire pit as the sun goes down.  Samantha is loving that her brother is hugging her every week at church.  I think it has really helped her resolve the issue of him being aggressive with her in the past.  Oh...and watch out because I promised her that she can write another blog entry very soon. 

Speaking of writing....I did manage to get an article published in a magazine.  The magazine is called "Philadelphia Row Home Magazine" and features stories on the neighborhoods of Philadelphia.  You can also google them and find that article plus another blog article that I sent them.  It's not exactly "Time" magazine but I'm proud to see my words in the pages of a magazine! 

Lets all hope for a summer that is safe for everyone.  Let's also pray for peace and love in our world.

Be well and God bless.   Tom

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tyler's Bibles

I'm very pleased to report that the Bibles that Tyler purchased for the church have arrived.  They are beautiful Bibles with a personalized stamp from Tyler.


The response from the congregation has been overwhelming.  So much so that people receiving the Bibles are donating money to defer the cost, which allows us to buy more Bibles for even more people.  We are turning it into a scholarship fund program that will continue to generate funds and turn it into more Bibles.  The initial goal is to provide Bibles to anyone in the congregation.  The longer term goal is to provide Bibles to people outside of the church that want to study and hear the word.

As I said a few weeks ago, I'm so proud that Tyler has been able to spread the message in such a special way.  It just proves that all of us, every single one of us, has the ability to reach out to other people and answer their calling.  

I'm not panhandling for money, but if Tyler's story moves you and you would like to donate something to Tyler's Bibles, please reach out to me.  Or even if you are moved to just comment about his story, please contact me at Tom300824@verizon.net.

Be well and God bless.    Tom


Saturday, April 21, 2018

Dreamer

I grew up listening to hard rock and metal music.  One of my favorites has always been Ozzy Osbourne.  Now before you check to see if I have horns growing out of my head, or if I bite the heads off of bats....I'd like to explain....

Ozzy is a flawed individual, which is putting it mildly.  Over the course of his life he has been a magnet for controversy.  Much of it has been well deserved, but some of it has been fantasy floated as facts.  No doubt that his drug and alcohol issues are the stuff of legend.  His marriages have always been full of difficulties.  So why on earth would I mention him in my blog?  Allow me to continue...

Our church lost someone very suddenly a few weeks ago.  She was scheduled for a surgical procedure and she died due to a complication that was unexpected.  I'm sure she planned things for after the surgery.  But she didn't get the chance, and just like that her life was over.  So what does this have to do with Ozzy?  

I often think about the life I have led.  And I think about the life I hope to lead over the next 30 years (God willing).  And when its all over and I have to account for where I have been and what I have done, will I be satisfied that I made the most of it?  After all, we are given ONE life to live and once it is over, its over.  I wasn't close enough to lady from my church to know how she would answer that question.  I know she served God and the church faithfully so perhaps she lived a very fulfilled life.  I certainly hope so.

As for Ozzy, he has traveled the world.  He has made millions of fans happy over the years.  He is actually a very empathetic individual who hates war, hates the destruction of our planet, and hates man's inhumanity to man.  He is a history buff.  He has earned a Grammy, induction to the UK and US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and has earned acclaim for two television shows.  I have a feeling he will leave this earth without a regret in his heart.  Saint Peter may just shake his head in disbelief as he walks by.

So ask yourself these simple questions....if you left this earth today, would you feel as though you lived life to the fullest?  Would you feel as though you left all of the cards on the table and had nothing left to do?  Will you feel as though you sampled all of the wonders that God has made for you?

I'm not sure how to answer those questions right now.  If I were to be called home as I sat here tonight I think I would feel like I left some places unseen, and things undone.  I admire people who accomplish a lot and live long lives.  I feel like they leave this earth and once they arrive in heaven they won't feel cheated.  That's an awesome thing.

Perhaps we should all ask ourselves this question:  if you were called home RIGHT NOW as you read this, what 2 places/things/people would you feel like you left incomplete?  What are you leaving on the table?

We all have to work and take care of responsibilities.  Its not like we are overflowing with money and time.  BUT, that will be of little solace when everything is over.  

Be honest about the fact that we have no idea how many days we have left.  We could all be called home tomorrow.  Make sure that when you arrive at the pearly gates that Saint Peter looks at you and gives you a nod and a shake of the head, amazed at everything you did in the short time you were here.

Be well and God bless.   Tom




Monday, April 2, 2018

How Tyler Contributes

Some time ago I explored Tyler's relationship with the church, and with religion in general.  I theorized that Tyler benefits from going to church by feeling the fellowship and acceptance of the others in the congregation.  Just having God's love surrounding him is something he may experience in ways we do not know about.  Its obvious that he enjoys his time there and seeing his friends and family.  He enjoys the music.  And he enjoys a feeling of participation.  If I knew nothing else about how he felt on the subject, this would be enough.

The sad truth is, however, that many churches would not welcome Tyler with open arms.  Even fewer would go out of their way to accommodate and invite more special needs people to attend.  Fewer still would make Tyler a member and baptize him.

This discussion is very much at the heart of why I had left organized religion for so long.  I believe (and I represent only myself in these words) that many churches and congregation members have the absolutely wrong idea about what a congregation should look like, or act like, or aspire to.  Church is not a fashion show.  Its not a place to gossip, or to judge other people.  Its not about gourmet coffee and assigned seats.  

Instead, we should ask ourselves "how much do we reach out to invite the poor, the addicted, and the disabled?"  These are the people that we are called to serve, and these are the people that we should embrace having around us to hear the word.

Back to Tyler.  While I had addressed the points of how church has impacted Tyler's life, I hadn't given enough thought to how he impacts the church.  How does Tyler contribute to his congregation?

The entire family tries to contribute in different ways.  Samantha helps with communion at times, and participates in the youth choir.  My wife helps make food for events.  My wife's parents make food and attend various groups.  I collect canned goods, host the spring yard sale, and assist with security.  I don't cook because we want to encourage people to come, not scare them away.  These are all just small ways we try to give back.

What about Tyler?  How could a young man who is non-verbal and severely disabled give back to others?  

He is going to give them Bibles.  You see, Tyler has a monthly amount that he gets to cover his rent and other expenses.  What remains is for us as his guardians to decide how to spend it on him.  It will often go for clothes, special foods, etc.  Or he shops for x-mas gifts for the family.  Its a challenge at times to think "what would Tyler want?" when he really has very little regard for material items.  One thing I do know about Tyler is that he would want to enrich the lives of those who share their time with him.  He loves to make people smile and to be happy with them.  So, on his behalf, we will be donating some Bibles to the church for those who need a new one or can't afford one.  It will be stamped on the inside cover that it has been donating with love by Tyler.  

Tyler is going to place a beautiful gift in the hands of those who need it.  That gift may help another person open their hearts and change the course of their spiritual journey.  

We are so proud that he uses his very attitude, presence, and perseverance to inspire those around him to continue to progress in their faith and their lives.  We are proud that he inspires me to write and spread his story of love as far as the internet will reach.  And we are proud that he can give such a wonderful gift to those who are looking for the word.

Be well and God bless.    Tom